The Incoterms rules or International Commercial terms are a series of pre-defined commercial terms published by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) widely used in international commercial transactions. A series of three-letter trade terms related to common sales practices, the Incoterms rules are intended primarily to clearly communicate the tasks, costs and risks associated with the transportation and delivery of goods. The Incoterms rules are accepted by governments, legal authorities and practitioners worldwide for the interpretation of most commonly used terms in international trade.
They are intended to reduce or remove altogether uncertainties arising from different interpretation of the rules in different countries. First published in 1936, the Incoterms rules have been periodically updated, with the latest version – Incoterms 2020 been published.
Incoterms® rules are the principles that outline the responsibilities of buyers and sellers operating in the international trade system. They are the authoritative rules for defining how costs and risks are assigned to the parties. Incoterms rules are frequently incorporated into contracts for the global sale of goods.
International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has launched Incoterms® 2020 set that contains the rules for use of the 11 Incoterms® trade terms. It takes into account the
latest developments in commercial practice, and updates the rules to make them more accessible and easier to use.
As of 1 January 2020 new rules have been issued, and as of this date all sales contracts should reference the Incoterms® 2020 which is the latest version of the Incoterm rule.
Incoterms ® 2020 for any mode(s) of transportation are:
EXW – Ex Works (named place of delivery)
The seller makes the goods available at its premises. This term places the maximum obligation on the buyer and minimum obligations on the seller. The Ex Works term is often used when making an initial quotation for the sale of goods without any costs included. EXW means that a seller has the goods ready for collection at his premises (works, factory, warehouse, plant) on the date agreed upon. The buyer pays all transportation costs and also bears the risks for bringing the goods to their final destination. The seller doesn’t load the goods on collecting vehicles and doesn’t clear them for export. If the seller does load the good, he does so at buyer’s risk and cost. If parties wish seller to be responsible for the loading of the goods on departure and to bear the risk and all costs of such loading, this must be made clear by adding explicit wording to this effect in the contract of sale.
FCA – Free Carrier (named place of delivery)
The seller hands over the goods, cleared for export, into the disposal of the first carrier (named by the buyer) at the named place. The seller pays for carriage to the named point of delivery, and risk passes when the goods are handed over to the first carrier.
CPT – Carriage Paid To (named place of destination)
The seller pays for carriage. Risk transfers to buyer upon handing goods over to the first carrier.
CIP – Carriage and Insurance Paid to (named place of destination)
The containerized transport/multimodal equivalent of CIF. Seller pays for carriage and insurance to the named destination point, but risk passes when the goods are handed over to the first carrier.
DAP – Delivered at Place (named place of destination)
Seller pays for carriage to the named place, except for costs related to import clearance, and assumes all risks prior to the point that the goods are ready for unloading by the buyer.
DPU – Delivered at Place Unloaded
The seller bears all risks involved in bringing the goods to and unloading them at the named place of destination. In this Incoterms® rule, therefore, the delivery and arrival at destination are the same. DPU is the only Incoterms® rule that requires the seller to unload goods at destination. The seller should therefore ensure that it is in a position to organise unloading at the named place. Should the parties intend the seller not to bear the risk and cost of unloading, the DPU rule should be avoided and DAP should be used instead.
DDP – Delivered Duty Paid (named place of destination)
Seller is responsible for delivering the goods to the named place in the country of the buyer, and pays all costs in bringing the goods to the destination including import duties and taxes. This term places the maximum obligations on the seller and minimum obligations on the buyer.
The four rules defined by Incoterms 2010 for international trade where transportation is entirely conducted by water are:
FAS – Free Alongside Ship (named port of shipment)
The seller must place the goods alongside the ship at the named port. The seller must clear the goods for export. Suitable only for maritime transport but NOT for multimodal sea transport in containers (see Incoterms 2010, ICC publication 715). This term is typically used for heavy-lift or bulk cargo.
FOB – Free on Board (named port of shipment)
The seller must load the goods on board the vessel nominated by the buyer. Cost and risk are divided when the goods are actually on board of the vessel (this rule is new!). The seller must clear the goods for export. The term is applicable for maritime and inland waterway transport only but NOT for multimodal sea transport in containers (see Incoterms 2010, ICC publication 715). The buyer must instruct the seller the details of the vessel and the port where the goods are to be loaded, and there is no reference to, or provision for, the use of a carrier or forwarder. This term has been greatly misused over the last three decades ever since Incoterms 1980 explained that FCA should be used for container shipments.
CFR – Cost and Freight (named port of destination)
Seller must pay the costs and freight to bring the goods to the port of destination. However, risk is transferred to the buyer once the goods are loaded on the vessel (this rule is new!). Maritime transport only and Insurance for the goods is NOT included. This term is formerly known as CNF (C&F).
CIF – Cost, Insurance and Freight (named port of destination)
Exactly the same as CFR except that the seller must in addition procure and pay for the insurance. Maritime transport only.